Global copper mine production up 3.5% through first two months of 2021

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Global copper mine production rose by 3.5% through the first two months of the year, the International Copper Study Group reported.

Furthermore, copper concentrate production rose by 5% during the period, while solvent extraction-electrowinning fell by about 3%.

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Recovering copper production

copper mine

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Strong Chinese demand powered metals markets last year, particularly as demand still lagged in Europe, the United States and elsewhere.

Meanwhile, on the supply side, copper mine production took a hit, particularly in South America, as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened. (MetalMiner contributor Christopher Rivituso recently summarized developments in the copper market and where prices could go this year.)

However, output recovered throughout the year and into 2021.

Chile, the top copper producer, saw its copper mine production fall by 2.6% during the first two months of the year.

Meanwhile, Peru, the second-largest producer, saw its output fall by 7.5% in January. Peru’s mine output bounced back in February, leading to an aggregated 3.7% drop for the two-month period.

Indonesia’s output rose by 90%, due to ramping up of underground production from the Grasberg mine.

In its Q1 financial report, miner Freeport-McMoRan offered an update on progress at the Grasberg mine. In its Q1 highlights, the miner said production “approximated 75 percent of the projected ultimate annualized level.”

“A total of 50 new drawbells were constructed at the Grasberg Block Cave and Deep Mill Level Zone (DMLZ) underground mines, bringing cumulative open drawbells to over 420,” the miner said.

Furthermore, Freeport said combined production from its Grasberg Block Cave and DMLZ underground mines reached approximately 98,500 metric tons of ore per day.

Refined production gains

Meanwhile, refined copper production picked up by 2.9% during the first two months of the year.

Chile’s refined copper output declined by 8.7%. Meanwhile, according to preliminary data, China’s refined production rose by 5%.

Copper surplus through two months

The ICSG reported the global copper market posted a surplus of about 130,000 metric tons through the first two months of the year.

The World Bureau of Metal Statistics, however, reported a surplus of just 2,200 metric tons from January-March.

Copper demand is likely to remain strong, particularly for its application in green technologies. However, miners will need to make additional investments in the coming years in order to keep up with what is expected to be a significant surge in demand for the metal for use in a variety of next-generation technologies, like electric vehicles.

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